Dealing with Uncertainty

At the moment my life is full uncertainties and I’ve been finding it difficult to cope. With a few notable exceptions (exams, extreme sports, presenting in public) I’ve spent the majority of my life coasting along in neutral. If there has been an easy option I have generally taken it, I hate feeling stressed and will generally do anything for an easy life. Although I do not think that I am lazy, I am far too negative and have had a slightly irrational fear of failing since I was 15.

Since the breakup of my relationship last week I have spent a lot of time alone. Being alone has enabled me to think about me as a person and about my current situation. There has been some serious soul-searching and I have realised that I need to learn to live with the uncertainties in my life. I also need to step outside of my comfort zone.

“Let go of certainty. The opposite isn’t uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow.” ―  Tony Schwartz

I love this quote!

Next week the junior tennis tournament I have spent months organising takes place. I have answered emails from parents, refunded players who for a variety of reasons withdrew from the tournament, purchased tennis balls and medals, and published the final entry lists and event draws online. I have done my best to control the controllable and I am as prepared as I can be. Although I have done my utmost to ensure that everything runs smoothly I am still feeling anxious. What happens if the weather is terrible and the courts are frozen? What happens if a player gets injured? What happens if…?

Hopefully the tennis tournament will be incident free and the weather will be kind. I really need to stop fretting about relatively minor matters. If the weather is terrible then I can cancel the tournament. If a player gets injured I can administer first aid. My supervisor told me that I need to get a grip, as a volunteer being an event organiser is meant to be fun. As always my supervisor is right, I need to chill out! Unfortunately tennis hasn’t been the only recent source of uncertainty in my life.

Within the next few weeks I will have to defend the output of three years of blood sweat and tears (yes there were tears towards the end); my PhD thesis*. At the moment I have no idea how my viva and the defence of my thesis will go. I have no idea if I will successfully defend my thesis; at the moment just looking at my thesis is making me feel anxious. Hopefully by working my ass off between now and by preparing for my viva I will pass. Failure is definitely not an option!

Life after I have completed my viva is looking uncertain at the moment. I am certain that I will have to make corrections to my PhD thesis, 99.9 per cent of research students have to make corrections. I can deal with the criticisms and corrections. What I am struggling to deal with is the uncertainty of not knowing if and where I will be working in a year’s time. As there are no hydrology jobs in Four Oaks I will have to move. Theoretically, in a year’s time I could be living and working in a different country. Aaarrrgghhh!! At the moment all of these uncertainties are scaring me.

At the grand old age of 35 I have realised that I need to finally learn how let go of the uncertainties, to embrace change and to step outside my comfort zone.

“Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.” ― Shannon L. Alder

225294_7107986506_3310_nAbout to step outside my comfort zone.

I won’t mention my running related uncertainties in this post!

*Rather ironically my PhD thesis has a Chapter dedicated to ‘Hydrological Uncertainty’. I have been told that I am good at dealing with and quantifying hydrological uncertainty. Perhaps I need to follow my own advice.


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